Archive for the ‘Guest Bloggers’ Category
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
You’ve seen them on TV crime dramas. A potential suspect is wired to a machine via a series of sensors attached to his body while he is grilled by an expert operator with a series of probing questions. Eventually, a needle goes haywire, and the lie is revealed. Well, not so fast. There are some serious misconceptions about the lie detector test, and we’re going to discuss ten of them below:
- The Name Itself– The first misconception to address is the very name lie detector test. It is more correctly known as a polygraph, and can be more accurately considered to be a truth verifier test, because …
- They Don’t Detect Lies – Polygraphs can confirm that a person is responding truthfully to a question; however, the body functions that are monitored in a polygraph test will not specifically identify a lie, simply an abnormal physiological reaction.
- They Are 100% Accurate – When administered by an experienced professional examiner, a polygraph test can be very accurate in establishing truth or indicating deception, but there are many factors that can alter their reliability.
- They Are Not Admissible In Court – Contrary to the belief even among some lawyers, this is no longer universally true. There have been cases where polygraph results have been entered as evidence in trials.
- You Can “Beat” A Polygraph Test – A professional examiner will conduct a polygraph in three phases – the pre-exam interview, the polygraph exam, and the post-exam interview – over the course of several hours. The exam will include control questions, which are designed to confirm the truthfulness of the responses.
- Drugs Can Help You Beat The Exam – Drugs or medications won’t aid in defeating a polygraph. Part of the pre-exam phase is for the examiner to ensure that the subject is fit to take the exam, and verify if any medications have been taken.
- Nerves Can Affect The Results Of A Test – Nervousness does not register in the same way the physiological response of the nervous system does during a polygraph. Also, the examiner will work with the subject throughout the process to ensure that they are as relaxed as possible.
- Polygraphs Include Trick Questions Intended to Elicit A Response – In fact, the respondent will be made aware in advance, of every question he will be asked in the polygraph exam. There are no surprise questions.
- Control Questions Are Standard Questions With Standard Responses – Not exactly. A control question is not something like “Is your last name Lipschitz”. The purpose of a control question is to induce the subject into giving a deceptive answer, so that the examiner can have reliable measurements of what a deceptive response will look like.
- You Only Fail If You Lie – While polygraphs do have a high percentage of accuracy when administered by a well-trained and qualified examiner, it’s quite possible to be completely truthful and still “fail” a polygraph exam.
For more information on this topic and much more check out this link here.
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
by Sarah Rosenstein
On May 25, 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared while walking to a bus stop two blocks from his home in lower Manhattan, New York. Etan’s body was never recovered and no one was ever officially convicted of the crime.
Many people might remember Etan as the first child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton. This was one of the first methods used to stimulate public awareness and would later set the Missing Children Movement in motion. In addition to Etan’s disappearance, other incidents during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s mobilized the missing child movement, including the Atlanta Child Murders and the murder of six-year old Adam Walsh.
The movement focused on improving the spread of information throughout the nation and community to spread awareness and help locate the child. Broadcasting alerts through an Emergency Alert System notified the public of a missing or abducted child and was at risk of serious injury or death. This method was strongly advocated and further developed into the AMBER alert, after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered in 1996.
In addition, the introduction of new legislation, such as the Missing Children Act (1982) and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (2006), also improve child protections and inform the public about these types of crimes and how they could be prevented. Specialized agencies and units within police departments were also developed to focus on the specific nature of these crimes so response was quick. A notable agency created is the National center for Missing and Exploited Children (1984) which helped spread information and protection through methods such as creating a registry of known sex offenders.
Etan Patz was legally declared dead in 2001. The case was reopened in 2010 by the New York District Attorney’s office. In April of 2012, FBI excavated the basement floor of a nearby home in the Patz neighborhood after cadaver dogs detected human remains. At the time of Patz’s disappearance, the owner put in new concrete floors. There was some evidence retrieved after the excavation, including a stain, some possible hairs, and a piece of paper that are currently being analyzed at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, VA.
Friday, May 4th, 2012
by Grace Park
Centuries ago when forensic science was not an established application to police investigations, eyewitness testimonies were the go-to method for collecting the facts of the crime. Nowadays, eyewitness accounts are not reliable for many reasons, one being that police may lead, intentionally or unintentionally, eyewitnesses towards a certain suspect. An honest and thorough procedure of the visual account needs to be encouraged amongst investigators.
For this reason, the House of Representatives passed a bill on May 1 changing police conduct during criminal lineups to improve eyewitness reliability. The bill is based on scientific studies done on how to improve the criminal lineup process.
During a typical criminal lineup process, either done with a one-way mirror or in a book of photographs, a suspect along with “fillers” are presented to the eyewitness.
Scientific studies were done to improve the eyewitness reliability. The modifications include using a sequential lineup which is when the eyewitness will look at one picture at a time. This reduces the number of times an eyewitness would incorrectly identify by 22%.
At this point, the bill will be reviewed by the Senate.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
by Grace Park
Since 1996, a serial rapist in the Los Angeles area has been terrorizing women. Although attacks were suddenly halted in 2005, the rapist claimed his 28th victim late in 2011. This alarming news for Los Angelians has startled the community and drove the police community to warn young women walking in the late or early morning hours. A unique feature of the serial rapist is his tear-drop tattoo on his face; however, it appears that the perpetrator may have removed his tattoo during his hiatus of 6 years. Police believe that the hiatus is due to the suspect being locked up for a different crime.
Descriptions of the perpetrator are general and vague, ranging from a height estimate between 5-feet-2 inches to 6-feet weighing between 130 to 200 pounds. To make matters a little more difficult, the sketch composites reveal different features and different positions of the tear-drop tattoo. Could this be an indicator of multiple perpetrators?
His mode of operation (MO) is another unique feature of this case. The suspect engages in a conversation with a woman walking alone between the times of 5am to 8am then brandishes a weapon, either knife or gun, to lure them into a secluded area to commit the horrendous crime.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
by Eden Pecha
The 86-62 vote in the Democratic-controlled House followed last week’s Senate vote and sends the bill moving to abolish the death penalty to Governor Dannel Malloy, who has vowed to sign it into law.
The House vote follows a 20-16 vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate on April 5 to repeal the death penalty. Once signed into law, Connecticut will become the fifth U.S. state in five years to remove the death penalty, following Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York.
Connecticut’s removal of the death penalty would replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. These prisoners sentenced to life in prison without parole would receive the same treatment as those on Death Row do now.
Since 1976 when the United States Supreme Court case Gregg v. Georgia repealed the ban on the death penalty, Connecticut has executed one man, a serial killer, by lethal injection. There are currently 11 men on Death Row in Connecticut and they would still face execution, since the law would only apply to future sentences.
In the case of Gregg v. Georgia, the US Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Troy Leon Gregg, effectively overturning the 1972 case of Furman v. Georgia, where the death penalty was barred because it was considered a violation of the eighth amendment protecting against cruel and unusual punishments.
Since 1976 when the death penalty was reinstituted, the state of Texas has executed the most inmates at 481, with another 317 on Death Row currently. Lethal injection has become the standard method for capital punishment today; however there has been a death by electrocution as recently as 2010 in Virginia, and a death by firing squad in 2010 as well in Utah.